LITTLE ROCK — It’s been awhile -- if ever -- since the Bryant Hornets put a team on the court that anyone would consider physical.
No, Bryant basketball success has been largely dependent on consistent execution on both ends of the floor, team defense, patience and high percentage shooting, blocking out on the boards and, to varying degrees depending on the opponent, officiating that rewards them for doing those old-fashioned things well. If they "let 'em play" the Hornets are often in trouble.
It often leaves little room for error. If any one or two of those things isn’t clicking, it’s going to be a struggle to win. Beyond that, it’s got a chance to get ugly.
On Friday, Jan. 30, at Little Rock Central, it took awhile but it got that way as the taller, more muscular Tigers played over the Hornets’ heads (and backs) on the way to a 67-39 win to wrap up the first half of the 7A-Central Conference’s home-and-home schedule.
The Tigers, who gained players after mid-term exams about mid-January, took out some of their frustrations on the Hornets. They banged away inside and out-rebounded the Hornets 35-17. As physical as the game was, there were only 22 free throws attempted between the two teams after the girls game had featured 56.
The teams came into the game tied for last place with one conference win each, a fact that belied the Tigers’ talent.
LITTLE ROCK — Attack the basket.
That’s what Bryant Lady Hornets head coach Blake Condley wanted his team to do when they took on the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers on Friday, Jan. 30.
After all the Lady Tigers were a little thin and they showed a penchant for aggressively going after anyone that tried to get to the rack.
The Lady Hornets obliged their coach and several of them have the bruises and floor burns to prove it. But the strategy worked. Two Central starters fouled out and the other three finished the game with four translating into a game in which the Lady Hornets shot 34 free throws and, phenomenally, hit 30 at Central’s gym.
They needed just about every one of them too as they escaped with a 73-67 win.The win planted the Lady Hornets firmly in second place in the 7A-Central Conference at 6-1 to go with a sterling 15-3 overall mark, a game behind North Little Rock, which supplied Bryant’s lone league loss, and one ahead of Cabot going into the second half of the league’s home-and-home schedule.
Actually, the most significant thing about the win over the Lady Tigers may have been the fact that they were coming off that loss to North Little Rock. It snapped an eight-game winning streak. If there was any concern about the way the Lady Hornets would respond to the bump in the road, that’s been dispelled.They hit the Lady Tigers, who had earlier lost to North Little Rock by 1 on a last-second shot, with 5 quick points on a driving layup by Alana Morris, a steal by Taylor Hughes and a 3-pointer by Hannah Goshien.
Morris would lead the Lady Hornets with 22 points including 15 of 18 free throws. She also hauled down 16 rebounds. Goshien added 16 points and, for the fourth time in five games (the lone exception was the North Little Rock game), knocked down four 3-pointers. Haley Montgomery came off the bench to added 13 points including 7 of 8 at the line. Anna Simpson had 12.
For Central, Dee Dee Airline scored 16, Shawnsee Arnold 15, Lesley Craft 13 and Adre Ann Walker 12.
By Rob Patrick
With their two most important games of the season to date looming and a team they had vanquished with relative ease on two previous occasions on hand, it’s understandable that the intensity level of the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team wasn’t at its peak on Thursday, Jan. 29.
But they got the job done.
Bryant held Lake Hamilton to 4 points in the first half and 13 for the game in the 31-13 victory. The Lady Hornets improved to 16-4 overall and 9-2 in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference. They were set to take on North Little Rock, the unbeaten leader of the division on Monday, Feb. 2, then Cabot South, the team they are tied with for second place, on Thursday, Feb. 5.
If the Lady Hornets can win those two games and finish the regular season on Monday, Feb. 9, with a win over Benton, they can capture a share of first place if Cabot South hands North Little Rock a second loss when they meet on that final night.
The league’s post-season tournament begins in Greenbrier on Saturday, Feb. 14.
By Rob Patrick
The Bryant Hornets freshman team held off a second-half rally by the Lake Hamilton Junior Wolves to capture their fourth win in a row and fifth in the last six games, 33-28, on Thursday, Jan. 29.
The Hornets led by 10 midway through the third quarter only to have Lake Hamilton whittle it down to 3 early in the fourth. Bryant built the margin back to 8 before the Wolves sliced it to 3 again in the final two minutes.In the latter case, Cody McPherson and Brantley Cozart hit clutch free throws to keep the Hornets ahead.
The win improved Bryant to 12-8 overall and 6-5 in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference. More importantly, the team is on a roll as the regular-season winds down and the league’s post-season tournament looms. If they can continue to win through the final three games, they could be a darkhorse to win the tourney. But they’ll have to wade through three of the top teams in the division, North Little Rock on Monday, Feb. 2, Cabot South on Thursday, Feb. 5, and Benton on Monday, Feb. 9.The tournament begins Saturday, Feb. 14, at Greenbrier.
By Rob Patrick
On their way to a 14-2 overall record and a 5-0 start in the 7A-Central Conference, the Bryant Lady Hornets faced teams that matched their quickness. And they’ve often come up against teams that were much taller.
But, for the first time, they ran into a team that was both in the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats on Tuesday, Jan. 27.And instead of the Lady Hornets making a late run to take control of the game, it was the Lady Cats who finished with a 15-4 run that turned their tenuous 60-56 lead into a closer-than-that 75-60 victory.
It was a game that deserved a bigger audience but, because of the threat of icy weather which wiped out every other Class 7A game in the state, the showdown was moved up to a 5 p.m. start. That, along with the conditions, held down the crowd so a relative smattering witnessed the battle for sole possession of first place in the league.
By Rob Patrick
A win over a team that came in tied for first place in the 7A-Central Conference would’ve been huge for the struggling Bryant Hornets.Playing through a four-game gauntlet of the top teams in the league, the Hornets came into their game with the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats on Tuesday, Jan. 27, on a three-game skid.
So it was another bitter pill when, after overcoming an 11-point deficit to take a lead with two minutes left in the game, they came up on the wrong end of a 55-52 final.
The Wildcats improved to 5-1 in the league, 9-8 overall with the victory. The Hornets fell to 1-5 and 7-11 going into a date at Little Rock Central on Friday, Jan. 30.
By Rob Patrick
LITTLE ROCK — In a game as closely contested as the one played by the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team and the Mount St. Mary’s Mounties were engaged in at McAuley Center on Monday, Jan. 26, the slightest surge figured to be the difference.
But it was a rare thing for one of the teams to even score back-to-back baskets, let alone put a string of them together to gain any security.
The largest lead through three quarters was 3 points as both played active, stingy defense.But, to start the fourth, it finally happened. The Lady Hornets sparked by a three-point play by Raegan Barker put together a 9-1 stretch that put them on their way to a well-earned 26-21 road win.
At 15-4 overall and 8-2 in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference, the Lady Hornets thus headed into the final two weeks of the regular season, tied for second place with Cabot South, two games behind North Little Rock.Both remain on Bryant’s schedule.
A few blocks away, the Junior Hornets also picked up a crucial victory at Little Rock Catholic, 40-35.
CONWAY — Junior Taylor Aldridge highlighted the efforts of the Bryant High School swim team at the Hendrix Invitational meet on Saturday, Jan. 24.
Aldridge finished fifth in the girls one-meter dive competition with a score 91.10, earning 14 points for the Lady Hornets.
The girls also picked up points in the 200 individual medley and the 100 free style from Justine Tazelaar. In the former, she was seventh with a time 2:36.92, picking up 12 points. In the latter, she finished eighth in a time of 1:02.27 for 11 points.
Megan Matthew added a 14th place finish in the 200 IM with a time of 3:03.04.
In the 500 free, Jordan Martin was 10th for the Lady Hornets in a time of 7:10.20 with Matthew 13th in 7:25.47.
Justin Combs accounted for all the points for the Hornets. His time of 2:11.89 in the 200 free was good for seventh with his 6:00.21 clocking the 500 free took ninth.
The teams were set to complete in a meet at UALR on Saturday, Jan. 31.
By Rob Patrick
CABOT — With just under a minute left to play in a frenzied, physical, hotly-contested 7A-Central Conference showdown, Bryant guard Haley Montgomery, all 5 feet, 2 inches (maybe?) of her was attacking the rack trying to answer a basket by Cabot’s Brooke Taylor had hit to get her team within 2 points, 65-63.
Taylor’s basket had ended a scintillating, clutch 8-0 run by Bryant that had turned a 61-57 deficit into a 65-61 lead.
Now anyone who has seen Montgomery play basketball or soccer knows she is tough. And fearless. Her drive right at Shelby Ashcraft, one of four Cabot players 6-feet or taller, ended with Ashcraft decking her. The back of Montgomery’s head bounced on the floor with a thud. And she stayed down, clutching her head and writhing in pain as the trainer rushed out to check on her.
A few minutes later, she was helped to her feet and led to the bench as teammate Kenzee Calley returned to the game to shoot her free throws.
Calley made one and Bryant’s lead was 3.
With :35 left, Stephanie Glover, another of Cabot’s 6-footers, scored inside to make it 66-65. After a timeout, the Lady Panthers forced a turnover and, with :28.3 showing, Taylor Rosel went to the line with a chance to tie it or put Cabot ahead as Bryant senior forward Anna Simpson fouled out.
Rosel made the second of the two free throws and, lo and behold, back came Haley Montgomery into the game.And wouldn’t you know, she got the ball right away against the Cabot press and was fouled with :24.4 to go. So, there she was, headache and all, lining up crucial free throws with the game tied.
She hit them both, of course.
By Rob Patrick
CABOT — One of the main reasons the Bryant Hornets’ losses at Little Rock Catholic and at Russellville in the first 10 days of the 7A-Central Conference race were so disappointing was what lay ahead.
In their next four games, the Hornets had to tangle with the four most talented teams in the league, Conway, Cabot, North Little Rock and Little Rock Central. Which is not to say that Hornets can’t beat those teams. It just means the task would be a little more challenging. It’s one thing to out-execute teams you match up with fairly well athletically and win, it’s another to execute so well that you overcome the other team’s raw talent.
On Friday, Jan. 23, the Hornets did a pretty good job of dealing with the talented players that the Cabot Panthers deployed, except for swingman Adam Sterrenberg, a three-year starter who’s been a thorn in the Hornets’ side (and more than a few others) for all those years, a player they won’t miss seeing in the future.Sterrenberg, a quick 6-3 slasher who can knock down the 3, wound up the only player in double figured in the game with 23 points, leading his team to a 58-30 victory.
The Panthers improved to 13-5 overall, 3-2 in conference play, a game off the pace set by Conway and North Little Rock.The Hornets fell to 7-10 and 1-4 going into their home date with North Little Rock.